Be familiar with the unfamiliar this summer

19 December 2023

Over the summer many people in New Zealand will be heading to new locations and participating in recreational water activities in spots away from their normal go to spots.

With more people out on the water, there are more instances of harm.

Between December 2021 and the end of March 2022, ACC received around 2700 injury claims relating to recreational craft activities. Compared to a monthly average of just under 300 claims for the other eight months of the year.

In 2022 19 died while undertaking activities on recreational craft.

When in unfamiliar waters, it is important to understand the local bylaws and risks.

"Crossing a bar is different to sailing in a lake, which is different from kayaking in a river.

"If you’re not prepared before you head out onto the water, especially in an unfamiliar location, you are putting yourself and others at risk, says Maritime NZ Principal Advisor Recreational Craft, Matt Wood.

The first step is to understand the local bylaws in the area you are holidaying in, and what is expected of you when you are in charge of the vessel you are managing.

These can range from speed and lifejacket rules through to getting vessels in and out of the water.

"There are some rules that apply to all water users, no matter where they are in the country, these are national maritime rules, such as keeping at a safe speed and respecting the give way rules.

"If in doubt, check out the laws by via the relevant council’s website.

"No matter what vessel you are using, it is expected that you and those on-board your vessel are wearing a properly fitted life jacket and that there is two forms of communication on-board," Matt Wood says. 

Weather conditions can change rapidly throughout the country, underscoring the importance of monitoring forecasts before the journey.

"On big bodies of water weather can change from the shore to the middle of a lake, or from an inlet, to off-shore.

"Being prepared can be a lifesaver," Matt Wood says.

Check MarineMate. It is a free app that allows you to access information on tide times, boat ramp locations and more.

For general water safety rules click here

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